Internet friendships are a different kind of friendship, but anyone who says they aren’t real doesn’t understand the nature of friendship.
In about 1999-2000, I joined the internet message board Barbelith. It started as a message board for the comic The Invisibles, but eventually became a community. So many great things spun out of it. Friendships, creative projects, artists, writers and heavy duty thinkers. It was not a message board for “me too” people and we continuously challenged each other to try harder, think deeper and BE better. I have a large number of on-line friendships that spun out of those times, and while I was involved with other message boards before and after, up until 2006, when it started to fade, it was my internet home.
One of the friendships from there was with Rex Cityzen.
Rex was smart, funny, thoughtful and cared about people. After Barbelith faded, we maintained our internet friendship on MySpace and then Facebook. We had each other’s phone number, but we never called one another, just texting back and forth. Usually funny stuff, but sometimes serious things about fatherhood, relationships, comic book conventions and other things. The stuff of friendship. Connections.
The last year or so, he had had health scares and I checked in when I heard about them. I would get worried when he would post things that sounded defeatist or down, and the last long discussion we had was when a trip he had planned went off the rails. The last real discussion we had was when Prince passed away as we were both big fans.
The podcast I recorded after Prince’s passing went from a discussion of how Prince had affect my life to the importance of having your estate in order, as one of my friends who was one of the big people in the Minnesota Comics scene passed without a will, and his son is still sorting things out two years later.
Rex texted me after listening to the episode:
“Listened to the podcast, a bit morbid, no? I know you love everyone, but you can’t dictate other people’s finances.”
I can’t say that we were best friends. Hell, half the time I wished we had more time to connect.
I woke up this morning to hear he’d passed away.
One of the phrases that people use all the time now is “I can’t even.”
I can’t even.
Thank you for the years of friendship, the times I laughed at what you wrote and you telling me you laughed at what I wrote. Thank you for talking to me about fatherhood and comics and music and meeting our heroes. The world is a smaller place today.
Fuck. I can’t even.